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RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 124 Part II, 30 June 1998
___________________________________________________________ RFE/RL NEWSLINE Vol. 2, No. 124 Part II, 30 June 1998 A daily report of developments in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus and Central Asia prepared by the staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. This is Part II, a compilation of news concerning Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. Part I covers Russia, Transcaucasia and Central Asia and is distributed simultaneously as a second document. Back issues of RFE/RL Newsline and the OMRI Daily Digest are online at RFE/RL's Web site: http://www.rferl.org/newsline xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Headlines, Part II * RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR LEAVES RESIDENCE, NOT MINSK * SERBS LAUNCH OFFENSIVE TO RETAKE MINE * EU WAITING FOR COMPLIANCE FROM BELGRADE xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR LEAVES RESIDENCE, NOT MINSK. After the Belarusian authorities cut off water and electricity to the Drazdy complex on 29 June, the Russian ambassador left his residence there, the Russian Foreign Ministry told Interfax. But whereas 11 other ambassadors were recalled as a result of the standoff between the diplomatic corps and the Belarusian government, ambassador Valerii Loshchinin has simply moved into an apartment elsewhere in the city. PG KUCHMA SAYS COMMUNIST CAN BE PARLIAMENT SPEAKER. At a meeting with leaders of the parliamentary parties on 29 June, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma said that Pyotr Simonenko, head of the Communist Party caucus, would be acceptable if the parliament voted for him and if the right- of-center caucuses were allowed to control at least 10 of the 20 parliamentary committees, according to ITAR-TASS. The other candidate in the next round of voting on 30 June is Leonid Chernovetskiy, a member of Kuchma's own People's Democratic Party. The parliament has been seeking to elect a speaker since 12 May. Kuchma warned that the deadlock is having a negative impact on Ukraine's development. PG ARGENTINA TO HELP UKRAINE ENCASE CHORNOBYL. During an official visit to Kyiv on 29 June, Argentinean President Carlos Saul Menem said his country will provide financial assistance to help build a more environmentally safe container for the Chornobyl nuclear power station, ITAR-TASS reported. Meanwhile, Ukrainian officials have shut down reactor no. 2 for repairs at the country's Yuzhnaya atomic energy station. Seven of Ukraine's 14 nuclear power reactors are now undergoing repairs. PG ESTONIAN RURAL BANK DEPOSITORS TO RECEIVE MONEY FROM FUND. The parliament has approved a government plan whereby money from the stabilization fund will be used to compensate depositors with the recently liquidated Rural Bank, ETA reported on 29 June. Some 266 million kroons ($17.7 million) will be taken from the fund as a seven-year, interest-free loan. Deposits of private individuals with the bank total 271 million kroons and corporate deposits 167 million. The government, which is the largest depositor with some 500 million kroons, will be the last to receive compensation. The parliament, for its part, has allocated 100 million kroons from the supplementary budget to partially compensate depositors. The Rural Bank was closed this spring after it lost some 200 million kroons on the stock market last year. JC POLISH PRESIDENT IN MOSCOW. On a private visit to the Russian capital on 29 June, Aleksander Kwasniewski met with Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Russian and Polish agencies reported. The two leaders discussed NATO expansion, over which the two adhered to their respective positions; Kosova, with Kwasniewski describing Russia's position as "rational"; and Belarus, where the two agreed not to try to isolate Minsk. Yeltsin accepted an invitation to visit Warsaw in mid-December, his first trip there since August 1993. And the two presidents agreed to meet before 2000 to open a memorial monument at Katyn to the Polish officers killed by Stalin during World War II. PG POLAND TO PUSH FOR ACCELERATED EU ENTRY TALKS. Jan Kulakowski, Warsaw's chief negotiator with the EU, and Ryszard Czarnecki, minister for European integration, said on 29 June that Poland will seek to begin concrete talks later this year on joining the EU, PAP reported. The announcement came in response to the EU's decision to delay such talks until sometime in 1999. Kulakowski said the move would be coordinated with the other candidate countries at a meeting in Ljubljana in mid-July. PG POLISH TROOPS TO PATROL WARSAW STREETS. Responding to popular demands for a crackdown on crime, the Polish Interior Ministry announced on 29 June that soldiers will be patrolling Warsaw streets this summer, Reuters reported. This is the first time troops will be on duty there since the introduction of martial law in 1981. The ministry denied that the recent murder of former national police chief Marek Papala has anything to do with the decision (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 June 1998). PG NO PROGRESS IN CZECH COALITION TALKS. President Vaclav Havel on 29 June met with Freedom Union chairman Jan Ruml and leader of the Christian Democratic Party (KDU-CSL) Josef Lux. Both party leaders said after the meeting that no progress has been made in discussions on a new coalition government. Lux stressed that the KDU-CSL is not ready to agree to a minority government composed of the Social Democratic Party and his own formation that would be tolerated in the parliament by the Communists. He also said the Freedom Union's recent announcement that it is ready to form a coalition with Vaclav Klaus's Civic Democratic Party (ODS) and the KDU-CSL under certain conditions was "premature," CTK reported. ODS deputy chairman Miroslav Macek told CTK that he is "disappointed" that the Freedom Union is talking about "preliminary conditions" even before starting coalition talks with the ODS. MS SLOVAK PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS LIKELY TO STALL AGAIN. Forty- five deputies from Prime Minister Vladimir Meciar's Movement for a Democratic Slovakia (HZDS) have nominated Banska Bystrica university rector Otto Tomecek as their candidate in the latest round of presidential elections, scheduled for 9 July, Reuters reported on 29 June. As in the previous rounds, the opposition parties said they will block the HZDS candidate. Without their support Tomecek cannot obtain the minimum 90 votes needed for election. Attorney Peter Tomka, who was backed by the Party of Democratic Left, withdrew from the race over the weekend, saying he has no chance of winning and that there is no point in running. MS SLOVAKIA, RUSSIA TO SWAP ARMS QUOTAS. Slovakia and Russia on 29 June agreed to exchange their arms quotas established by the Treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, ITAR-TASS reported. Under the agreement, Slovakia will acquire another 15 fighter helicopters and Russia another 15 combat aircraft. Defense Ministry spokesman Jaroslav Tomas told journalists that the exchange will take place within the next three months. He added that NATO countries frequently redistribute quotas among themselves. MS HUNGARIAN PEOPLE'S PARTY ELECTS NEW LEADER. The 28 June national congress of the Hungarian Democratic People's Party (MDNP) elected Erzsebet Pusztai as the party's new leader. Former party chairman Ivan Szabo, who resigned after the party's failure to enter the parliament in the May elections, became MDNP honorary president for life. Pusztai said it is essential that the MDNP conclude an alliance with other civic forces before the local elections scheduled for this fall. MSZ SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE SERBS LAUNCH OFFENSIVE TO RETAKE MINE. Serbian security forces launched an offensive on 29 June to retake the strategic mining town of Belacevac, near the Kosova capital of Prishtina. Fighting initially centered around the town's coal mine, which supplies two nearby power plants and has been controlled by Kosova Liberation Army (UCK) forces since last week. Detonations and gunfire continued on 30 June. The area around the town was sealed off, and Serbian police and Yugoslav army troops, backed up by armored personnel carriers, moved into the area. Several buildings in the town were reported to be ablaze. Hundreds of civilians from Belacevac and the nearby towns of Hade and Lismir have fled the area. There are no independent reports of casualties. The situation in the central Kosovar town of Kijeva is unchanged (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 29 June 1998). PB EU WAITING FOR COMPLIANCE FROM BELGRADE. EU foreign ministers have called on Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic to immediately implement the pledges he made in Moscow (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 16 June 1998), including an halt to offensives against civilians, Reuters reported on 30 June. The statement, issued after a meeting in Luxembourg, stressed support for Kosova to be given "a large degree of autonomy" by Belgrade. The foreign ministers also adopted a ban on flights by the Yugoslav state airline, JAT, to EU countries. However, a date for the ban was not agreed upon. The foreign ministers were divided over whether to allow UCK members to take part in peace negotiations. British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook said negotiations should be held with ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova, the "legitimate elected leader." PB ANNAN URGES ACTION WITH UN MANDATE. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 29 June urged the international community to move swiftly in Kosova in order to avoid a "second Bosnia." Annan, speaking in Vienna, said the UN Security Council would have to approve any military action in the Serbian province. He also said he is willing to travel to Yugoslavia if the situation calls for it. In Moscow, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that it cannot support NATO military action in Kosova and that Moscow expects efforts to find a political solution to "bear fruit." PB UCK SPOKESMAN SAYS RUGOVA OUT OF TOUCH WITH PEOPLE. Jakup Krasniqi, a spokesman for the UCK, said on 28 June that Kosova shadow state President Ibrahim Rugova does not have enough "political capital" to assume control over the UCK, Belgrade-based Radio B92 reported. Krasnici said that Rugova has lost touch with Kosovar Albanians and that the UCK will never be controlled by a man who has made so many accusations against it. Rugova recently told Western officials that he will seek to gain some influence over the UCK (see also "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 June 1998). Krasniqi said the UCK has some 30,000 troops organized into three brigades. PB RUGOVA ADVERSARY SAYS UCK CONTROLS HALF OF KOSOVA. Adem Demaci, leader of the Parliamentary Party of Kosova and a rival of Rugova, said on 27 June that UCK forces control 50 percent of Kosova, the independent news agency Beta reported. Previous reports have estimated that the UCK has control over 30-40 percent of the province. Demaci, in an interview published in the Croatian newspaper "Jutarnji List," said the UCK troops control all of the main roads in Kosova. He added that UCK forces are not attempting to take over towns. Demaci said Rugova's policy of non-violence has failed. Rugova and his supporters "follow fiction" but the UCK "is a factor that has helped us return to reality," he commented. PB MACEDONIAN PREMIER GLOOMY ABOUT KOSOVA. Branko Crvenkovski said in Washington that there is "not much room for optimism" over the crisis in Kosova, an RFE/RL correspondent reported. Speaking after a meeting with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, Crvenkovski said that there is still hope for finding "a political solution" and that Belgrade must give ethnic Albanians "substantive autonomy." Ethnic Albanians make up some 25 percent of Macedonia's population. Crvenkovski is to meet with U.S. Vice President Al Gore, Defense Secretary William Cohen, as well as World Bank and IMF officials during his visit. PB MONTENEGRO ASKS PRIVATE BROADCASTERS NOT TO SIGN CONTRACTS WITH BELGRADE. The Montenegrin government on 27 June asked all private radio and television stations not to sign any contracts with the federal Yugoslav authorities. The government's Information Office issued a statement saying that "Montenegrin radio and television stations have no obligation toward the federal government." It added that Belgrade's recent demand that they sign contracts to rebroadcast a federal program was "yet another unconstitutional attempt to centralize the information environment in the federal Yugoslavia," RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS MONTENEGRO DEFIES BELGRADE OVER PREVLAKA. Montenegrin Foreign Minister Branko Perovic told the daily "Pobjeda" on 26 June that his government is ready to open a border checkpoint with Croatia on Prevlaka Island even without a final settlement over the island's border. He added that Belgrade rejected an offer to open the checkpoint but had not consulted Podgorica over the issue. Meanwhile, the UN General Assembly has appointed Graham Roger Williams from New Zealand as commander of the 28-member monitoring mission on Prevlaka, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS BOSNIAN SERB PARTY ELECTS NEW LEADER. The Serbian Democratic Party's General Assembly on 28 June elected Dragan Kalinica as chairman. Kalinica replaces Aleksa Buha, who resigned the previous day. Buha, a close associate of indicted war criminal and Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, said he resigned because the party has "not supported his model of party leadership." Tanjug quoted party members as saying that Buha is unsatisfied that his party nominated Momcilo Krajisnik, rather than him, as a candidate for the presidency of Bosnia-Herzegovina, RFE/RL's South Slavic Service reported. FS EUROPEAN OFFICIALS PUSH FOR ALBANIAN CONSTITUTION COMPROMISE. Representatives of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, the European Parliament, and the OSCE's Parliamentary Assembly were in Tirana on 29 June to push for closer cooperation between the government and the opposition in drafting a new constitution. After meeting with those officials, Democratic Party Deputy Chairman Genc Pollo admitted that his party has not kept an earlier promise to become actively involved in the drafting process. His party has demanded a veto in the parliamentary drafting commission, but commission chairman Sabri Godo of the Republican Party has rejected that proposal, "Koha Jone" reported. FS ALBANIAN PRESIDENT DEMANDS PARLIAMENT ACTION OVER CONTRABAND. Rexhep Meidani on 29 June presented to the parliament the results of an investigation into customs evasion and smuggling, which show a considerable drop in revenues from customs duties in the first four months of 1998 compared with the last four months of 1997 (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 June 1998). Parliamentary speaker Skender Gjinushi demanded that the parliamentary commissions for finance and the interior launch investigations into the matter and make recommendations to restructure the customs, police, and judicial systems, "Koha Jone" reported. FS ROMANIAN PREMIER SKEPTICAL ABOUT SPEEDY NATO MEMBERSHIP. Prime Minister Radu Vasile, addressing a forum of his party's youth organization in Calimanesti on 27 June, said it is "unlikely" that Romania will be invited to join NATO next year and "more realistic" to view membership as "possible" between 2000 and 2003. He said that NATO membership remains a "major target" of Romanian policy but that "the hysteria" that accompanied Romania's bid for membership in 1997 must be avoided. Vasile added that he does not believe his National Peasant Party Christian Democratic (PNTCD) is able to win the next elections on its own and that statements by PNTCD members in favor of early elections are "inopportune." He argued that the PNTCD must accept the idea that in the year 2000 it will also need a coalition in order to rule, RFE/RL's Bucharest bureau reported. MS FORMER SECURITATE AGENTS SOUGHT IN TOP LEADERSHIP. The Supreme National Defense Council on 29 June announced it has asked the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE), the Interior Ministry, and the Defense Ministry to report within 10 days whether any member of the council had links with the communist secret police. The same day, the Chamber of Deputies unanimously passed a resolution demanding that the SRI do the same for its members within two weeks. Also on 29 June, Democratic Party deputy Adrian Vilau, whose former links with the Securitate were recently revealed, resigned as chairman of the chamber's commission overseeing the activity of SIE. MS ROMANIA TO REDUCE MILITARY FORCES. Defense Minister Victor Babiuc told journalists on 29 June that Romania's military forces will be cut this year by some 10,000 troops. At the end of the process, he said, the total number of troops will be reduced to150,000. In other news, on 29 June the parliamentary group of the Hungarian Democratic Federation of Romania in the Chamber of Deputies submitted a draft law for setting up a Hungarian-language university in Cluj. MS YELTSIN RECONFIRMS RUSSIAN POSITION ON TRANSDNIESTER. In a message to his Moldovan counterpart, Petru Lucinschi, Russian President Boris Yeltsin has reconfirmed that Moscow wants the sides involved in the Transdniester conflict to "strictly abide by the May 1997 memorandum on normalizing relations between Moldova and the Transdniester and the March 1998 Odessa summit accords," Infotag reported on 29 June. Yeltsin's message was delivered to Lucinschi by Igor Morozov, the Russian representative at the Chisinau-Tiraspol negotiations. MS WESTERN EUROPEAN UNION OFFICIALS IN BULGARIA. Parliamentary chairman Yordan Sokolov on 29 June told a WEU delegation that Bulgaria will comply with any decision taken by the international community on the Kosova conflict, an RFE/RL correspondent in Sofia reported. The delegation is also scheduled to meet with Foreign and Defense Ministry officials and tour military installations in Plodviv and Karlovo. The WEU is the military arm of the EU. MS xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Copyright (c) 1998 RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx HOW TO SUBSCRIBE Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the word subscribe as the subject of the message. HOW TO UNSUBSCRIBE Send an email to email@example.com with the word unsubscribe as the subject of the message. 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